Film room: Badgers center Tyler Biadasz taking his game up a level during sophomore season

October 24, 2018 GMT

Tyler Biadasz wasn’t one of the University of Wisconsin’s three All-American offensive linemen last season, as the redshirt freshman took a back seat to veterans Michael Deiter, Beau Benzschawel and David Edwards.

Not only has Biadasz caught up to the hyped trio this season, he may be passing some of them by on his way to some serious postseason recognition of his own.

Biadasz moves about as well as any college center you’ll find, and the Badgers often use that to their advantage by having him pull with the strong-side guard to create a convoy in front of Jonathan Taylor when running off-tackle.

The guard will normally take the first oncoming defender in these instances, but in the first video, Biadasz is aware enough to spot a late-arriving linebacker flying in towards Taylor after Deiter was already too far upfield. You can see Deiter ever-so-slightly hesitate before realizing Biadasz is taking care of the danger. Biadasz doesn’t have much time to react but is able to square his body to the oncoming defender, lock onto him and seal the edge for Taylor.

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Check out this play from the Michigan game two weeks ago, when Biadasz pulled around the left side and blocked two players -- one with each arm.

Biadasz has also shown off his balance and athleticism this season when pulling around a lineman or tight end that’s been muscled into the backfield at the snap. While I didn’t notice an occasion in which he needed to dodge a teammate during Saturday’s Illinois game, here’s an example of what I’m talking about on Taylor’s 5-yard touchdown against New Mexico earlier this year.

Benzschawel — who I should note has also been fantastic this year — gets knocked back a couple yards. Biadasz is forced to take a longer path around Benzschawel but still manages to beat Taylor to the hole and throw a key block.

UW often pulls Biadasz into the B-gap, too, something he can do almost as quickly as blocking the man directly in front of him. Illinois linebacker Jimmy Marchese reads the play below well, taking off towards the path of Taiwan Deal’s run almost immediately after the snap. Still, he has not shot of beating Biadasz to the gap.

Biadasz takes out Marchese, Benzschawel does a fantastic job of getting to the second level to block the other inside linebacker and Deal’s free to run about 10 yards before he’s touched.

There’s certainly more to Biadasz’s game than pulling, though. You rarely see any issues from him in pass protection, and he can be a straight-up mauler in the run game, too. He uses his strength and leverage well to open up lanes, and he’s capable of handling even bigger defensive tackles or nose guards one-on-one.

And as you’d expect, he’s also great at getting to the second level quickly and locking on linebackers. He combos with Deiter in the clip below, delivering an initial strike to a defensive tackle before breaking off onto a linebacker to clear him out of the way.

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Biadasz will be an NFL draft pick one day. It’s just a matter of when. One of my bold predictions before the season was that this would be the redshirt sophomore’s final year with the Badgers, and it’s looking more likely he could have the opportunity to leave early if he so chooses.

— UW’s pass rush, while improved, remains a work in progress. Even with Andrew Van Ginkel now healthy, Isaiahh Loudermilk remains on the mend and the Badgers aren’t loaded with a surplus of elite pass rushers in the front seven.

Check out this third-down play from Saturday, though. Six defenders crowd the line of scrimmage before the snap, yet only three of them rush quarterback M.J. Rivers before Van Ginkel comes up with a sack.

This looks like zero coverage pre-snap with UW’s corners manned up and playing 5-10 yards off Illinois’ five wideouts. When the Badgers drop three into a shallow zone, you can see it affect Rivers. He pump fakes at a slant route that he probably expected to be open against the soft coverage of UW’s defensive backs. Then he panics and scrambles out of a clean pocket before it’s necessary — leading him right into the sack.

This may not work against a more experienced quarterback, but sometimes it’s amazing the chaos you can create when you simply do something the other team isn’t expecting.

— When you watched Alec Ingold catch his 19-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter against Illinois on Saturday, did you get a weird feeling you were re-living an identical moment from the past? If so, it’s because you were.

Three of Ingold’s four career receiving touchdowns have come off nearly the exact same play, and the fourth (his touchdown catch against Akon in 2016) was also very similar. The Badgers pull this out just infrequently enough to spring Ingold free almost every time they try it.

Here are a couple other tidbits after re-watching Saturday’s game:

— If T.J. Edwards did experience a slow start to this season, it’s faded at this point. He’s been great the past few weeks and did a fantastic job of reading AJ Bush’s eyes on his first-quarter interception.

— The outside linebackers didn’t completely clean up the undisciplined play that hindered the defense against Michigan. It could be crucial to fix that this week against Northwestern.

— While Kadyen Lyles, Matt Henningsen and Bryson Williams don’t necessarily make up an imposing starting three up front if Olive Sagapolu and Isaiahh Loudermilk remain out, I’ve noticed some steady improvement from all three freshmen since Week 1.